Turkish government has been spying on its own citizens in 35 countries with the help of its diplomatic outposts, according to German weekly magazine Der Spiegel.
“The diplomatic cables contain information collected by Turkish diplomatic outposts in 35 countries,” said an article on the magazine on Friday.
Der Spiegel has become the latest of media outlets to document spying activities involving Turkish government recently.
The government-backed espionage targeted supporters of the Gülen movement most as the article underscored: “The result is a more than 100-page compendium of suspected enemies of the state around the world — an imposing document that provides evidence of global espionage activities against suspected members of the Gülen movement.”
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan put the blame on the Gulen movement for the July 15 coup attempt.
Embassy officials document the organizations in which Gülen supporters are active and the media they write for, the magazine said. Among the countries that Turkish government’s long arm has reached to are Japan, Mauretania, Sweden, Tanzania, Australia, Kenya, Denmark, Mongolia, Germany, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, Austria, Switzerland, Belgium.
“The request to compile the files came directly from Ankara. On Sept. 20, 2016, the Turkish government’s religious agency, Diyanet, sent out an order asking” for detailed reports about organizational structures, activities and educational institutions of the movement,” read the article.
As a result of such pressure, parents in many countries have since pulled their children out of Gülen schools out of fear they will be subject to abuse from other members of local Turkish communities or that they will be banned from re-entering Turkey, Der Spiegel underlined.
“We need to apply legal means to crack down on the spying structures of the Turkish embassies and organizations,” Austrian Green Party politician Peter Pilz told the magazine.
Meanwhile, the article also stated that Turkish-funded mosques play a crucial role in having placed Erdogan opponents under observation. “Several imams are believed to have spied on members of their congregations and six have been withdrawn from Germany after the spying allegations emerged. There are similar suspicions of mosque associations in 37 other countries.“